It was with anticipation that the court and the people of the shadow city met the tourney that Prince Marence had called, though it was not necessarily a welcoming anticipation. The rumors were rife that the tourney was an occasion for the Prince of Dorne to name the date at which a party of emissaries would leave for the Iron Throne, counterpart to that foreign embassy already in the city. Many doubted the efficacy of such a plan, the trustworthiness of the lords north of the mountains, or even of the gods-mad king that rules the Seven Kingdoms. Yet still, perhaps the rumors were wrong…
As it happened, they were. Or, more precisely, they _became_ wrong.
A bold field of knights took up their lances to joust. Not only Dornishmen, but knights of the embassy would ride in the contest, Lord Athell Connington and the famous (and very pious) Lord Joscelyn the Just. Of the knights in Sunspear, Lord Aryard Manwoody was among their number, and Ser Tamlyn Toland, as well as the son of the Bastard of Sunspear, Ser Brys Sand, Ser Jordan Dayne, Dread Daven Wyl, Ser Laurent the Sand Dog, the Lord of Kingsgrave’s kinsman Ser Cullen, Ser Darion Fowler, and Ser Galwell Dalt. And of course, one more: the youngest of the three royal brother, Prince Rhodry, riding with intent some called deadly, for his mood was said to have been black and dangerous for no cause that anyone could tell.
The jousting was skillful, and notable deeds were done, and many were the lances shattered. And if the event was marred by the fact that a certain prince showed little courtesy, and rode with fury in his heart rather than chivalry, it seemed to at least be a tournament worthy of the prize Prince Marence offered.
That, however, came to an end when Prince Rhodry met Lord Joscelyn Mallister, called the Just, in the final contest to decide the victor. All eyes watched as the knights charged. And all eyes watched as the black-hearted prince’s lance swung in and up, aimed not at the shield, nor even the breast plate, but Mallister’s helm. In the normal course of things, it might have caused an unpleasant blow, might even have led to a split lip or a broken nose, but such are the injuries that knights face. But this was not the normal course: by some hitherto-unseen flaw, the steel of Lord Joscelyn’s helm gave way, not merely denting, but seeming to shatter catastrophically. Joscelyn the Just was catapulted from the saddle, seeming lifeless as he tumbled head over heels.
The watching audience reacted with horror, with shock, with fear (for the most part; some did not seem to mind that Joscelyn, a northron emissary already unpopular for his strident views, might be injured), especially when he did not move, and when the bloom of scarlet blood flowered and spread amidst the sand of the lists. Some spoke of curses, or of witchcraft, and others called on the protection of the gods from evil. Squires and maesters attended to him, and Prince Rhodry? Showing neither remorse nor concern, he rode on to claim his prize.
He did not receive it. Not then, at least—Prince Marence refused to do so, in his barely-guarded rage at his brother’s act. Perhaps later, he might collect it, but at that moment Prince Marence wanted nothing more than to see his brother out of his sight. Prince Rhodry shrugged, they say, and rode away to his pavilion, where Tanyth Toland, the Black Tempest, sent imprecations at him for what he did. Those who heard her claimed she was angered because of the danger to those men and women sent as emissaries to the Iron Throne might be put in danger if one of Baelor’s lords were killed. Prince Rhodry did not care for that argument, however: so much so, in fact, that he pushed her aside before leaving, looking angry. Ser Tamlyn, her twin, might have given chase and confronted him, but the Black Tempest stopped him.
And so Lord Joscelyn was taken away to be tended to, and rumors were rife that he was variously dead, or soon dead, or perfectly well but for a bruise and a scratch, and any of number conditions in between. Later reports would have it that the lord had suffered a grievous injury about his eye, shards of steel having to be withdrawn from it, shards that made a neat array about his eye that looked to some not unlike a star. And he remains, worryingly, unconscious, lost to the world. There are those who fear he will die, and chief of these is Prince Marence, who has tasked the maesters at court to watch the fallen lord by night and day.
As to Prince Rhodry, the perpetrator? They would have feted him in the winesinks and pot shops in the shadow city, and even in the halls of the Old Palace he might have found some who would provide discrete praise. Not from his brother, however: they say Prince Marence was heard to raise his voice when he met with him again, shouting at him. The Prince departed, still in his black mood, and trailing in his wake was the word that the prize money had been donated to the Faith, every sun of it, and not by his choice.
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Blood on the Sands (Again)
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